Guidance on Joint Investigative Interviewing of Child Witnesses in Scotland

Good practice guidance for police officers and social workers who are carrying out joint investigative interviews with child witnesses

APPENDIX B: Briefing and Debriefing - role of Supervisors and Managers

Planning a Joint Investigative Interview is the responsibility of both police and social work services and should take account of the key planning points listed after paragraph 25. Along with considering planning issues, it is important that Supervisors/Managers fully brief and debrief staff both prior to and following a JII.


Supervisors/Managers should share with the selected interviewers the information gathered regarding the allegation and should remind interviewers of the interview model phases:

  • Introduction: General information about the names and roles of the interviewers and how the interview will be recorded.
  • Rapport Phase and Practice Interview: Remind interviewers of the purpose and format of this phase and the need to rehearse the use of open prompts
  • Interview principles: Remind interviewers to interweave these in the phases and to reiterate them throughout the interview as appropriate
  • Free Narrative: Interviewers should be reminded that this is best evidence as it is the uninterrupted account by the child. Open-ended prompts will encourage this and interviewers should be reminded to use these e.g. "Tell me about…"; "Tell me more about…"; "And then?"
  • Questioning: Managers should ensure that the interviewers are aware of the level of forensic information that may be required in relation to the information available about the concern.
  • Closure: Managers must ensure that interviewers understand the need to carry out this phase and that they should:
    • Summarise the main evidential points using the child's language where possible;
    • Check if the second interviewer has any questions;
    • Check if the child has any questions;
    • Make the child aware of the possibility of further interviews;
    • Provide the child and/or family with contact details for police or social work and if appropriate support agencies contact details;
    • Thank the child for their time and effort (not for the information given)
    • Revert to a neutral subject to give the child time to compose themselves.

Interviewers should also be reminded:

  • To be aware of the child's needs during the interview such as breaks if the child is tired or needs to use the toilet.
  • Consent of the child is generally tacit/ assent rather than a formal consent.

Following the interview

Following the interview the Supervisor/ Manager must check that the Interviewers:

  • Make sure that the consent form has been signed
  • Review the visual recording as necessary
  • Check and agree the manual record- original to be held by police
  • Provide a copy of the manual record to the social work interviewer
  • Seal the master copy of the visual recording
  • Check and label any productions from the interview


The debriefing session undertaken is also an important part of the process of joint planning and management of child protection enquiries. Areas covered should include:

  • Findings from the interview- level of risk to this child and /or any other child
  • Further action to be taken and by whom
  • Consideration as to whether another interview should be undertaken
  • Arrangements for a medical examination if required
  • Identify any practice or operational issues ( e.g. training needs; procedural gaps
  • Record of the debriefing is completed to include decisions taken and copies kept by both social work and police services
Back to top